In Which I Forgive the River (Paperback)

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Poetry. Native American Studies. California Interest. Many of the poems in this collection are inspired by stories told by Ascension Solorsano de Cervantes, a descendant of indigenous people in what became California, and the last fluent native speaker of the Mutsun language. This sets the tone for Charlotte Muse's poetry, taking the form of a literary expedition, at times anthropological, at others anthropomorphic, through many lives, many times, historical past and personal past, bodies human and animal, flesh and spirit--so much layered in these pages. Her opening poem, Why You're Afraid of the Road answers that it might be the impulse to leave the world--what if you just drove off the edge / because you were tired of all / curves and wanted to lie on air? This thought is echoed in the title poem, forgiving the river even as it carries her away, giving up my own motion... / Already I'm dissolving in the world. Writing of Last Days, she imagines the earth opening to disgorge the souls of the dead, so many that one walks through them like a projection: there's no sensation, but there's a shadow on you, / and for a moment, a face replaces / your face. If this sounds morbid, it's not--merely another way of seeing the world. And yet another way is through animals, beginning with the image of an owl painted on a cave wall thirty thousand years ago, left in darkness, perspective frozen in stone: Doesn't everything want to take in more of the world?, she asks, for the owl and for us.Later, writing of a living owl flying over a mountain lake, she longs to see with the bird's eyes: I'll watch until mine, too, see wide / all the way to the other side. The other side of life, that is. She finds this gift in animals, many of which appear here, snakes and rats and pigs and bees. Whatever a fish wants to do / takes the whole fish she observes--such concise advice for living. Mourning the dead bodies of frogs dissected in biology classrooms occasions a plea for forgiveness from all the world: Please. Don't go. / We want you back. / We see now what we've broken. / We didn't mean to break it / break it break it. We didn't / mean to break it. Still, she writes of hope that we can learn from such experiences: This poem says Don't worry. / You're the one whose heart was broken or awakened. / Who knows the story better than you? The closing poem describes a photograph of a lost world, of Europe in 1909, a watch always ticking closer to Sarajevo and the great war and the war after that and / the ends of so many worlds. Like Solorsano, Muse writes of, and from, the ends of worlds--but perhaps, also, the possibilities of new ones.


Product Details
ISBN: 9781937968823
ISBN-10: 1937968820
Publisher: Broadstone Books
Publication Date: May 1st, 2021
Pages: 72
Language: English